Saturday, July 31, 2010

No chew recipe: black beans, diced tomatoes, and whole grain brown rice

This recipe is full of fiber and can be prepared with ingredients that can be stocked in your shelves and ready to be used when the pain spikes. It's quick, easy, and nutritious. See information below about the spices this recipe uses.

10 ounce can RoTel diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro
15 ounce can Progresso black beans

a pinch (less than 1/8 teaspoon) xanthum gum (optional)
2 tablespoon diced fresh onion or 1 teaspoon dried green onion
1 tablespoon ground flax seed

1 teaspoon brown cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Success whole grain brown rice boil-in-bag
Optional dried cilantro, finely chopped very ripe fresh tomato or salsa, and non-fat plain Greek yogurt for garnish

If you like your black beans to be extra thick, you may want to use the optional xanthum gum. Use it first, putting the can of tomatoes into a pot, adding the xanthum gum, stirring until lumps are gone. Because black beans are tough and chewy, putting them in a food processor or breaking them down with a hand blender is necessary if you want to take the "chewy" out.

If you are using fresh onion, you'll want to break them down with the black beans. After they have been softened in this manner, add them to the pot. If you are using dried green onions, add then to the mixture along with ground flax seed, sugar, garlic, cumin, and sea salt. I added a little (1/2 teaspoon) dried cilantro because I like this dish to be really spicy. Bring to a low boil and then cover and reduce to low  heat. Stir often. After the mixture has simmered for 15 minutes, turn off the heat and and keep it covered.

While the black beans are cooking, put whole grain brown rice boil-in-bag in another pot and cook according to the directions on the package. If you want your rice to be softer, cook 2-5 minutes longer. Any whole grain brown rice will work, but the boil-in-bags make cooking simpler. When it's cooked and drained, place some brown rice into a bowl and top with the black bean and tomato mixture.

Makes four servings. I've garnished mine with lowfat plain Greek yogurt (a healthier alternative to the  traditional sour cream), a pinch of dried cilantro, and some fresh diced tomatoes. It's a little spicy. Enjoy!

According to, cilantro contains anti-oxidants, vitamins, and it may help with digestive and cholesterol issues.  Additionally, states that cumin's health benefits include aiding in digestion, piles, insomnia, respiratory disorders, asthma, bronchitis, common cold, lactation, anemia, skin disorders, boils, immunity, and cancer. Ground flax seed, according to is beneficial in lowering cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.

You can find other no-chew recipes on my blog by using the Google search tool at the top of this page. I am hoping you will feel better soon. Take good care and may God bless you.

Have you visited my website? With Great Mercy ?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hospital Zone, respite, and answered prayers

In the past week, my Mom has needed emergency care twice. Yesterday my daughter had major surgery, and she had a procedure that lasted several hours. I hugged her at 10:30 a.m. and did not get to see her again until about 5:00 pm.. Last night, I slept in a chair in her hospital room.

Today I came back home ( a 1.5 hour drive) only to learn that my Mother needed to go back to the same area I just left so she could get treatment for her own emergent medical situation. Because I had very little sleep last night, I called my uncle, and took my mom back part of the way, not far from his home. He took my mom to the opthamologist, and I came back home to rest. Although I offered to pick my mother back up at his house, my uncle gladly brought her back home after her treatment was accomplished.

The good news is that both my Mom and daughter will both be fine, and I appreciate everyone's prayers. I'll be blogging about trigeminal neuralgia and facial pain soon but I'm going to take a couple of days to get some rest. A caretaker's stress can be high, and I remember the days when people took care of me. I'm glad I have a chance to give back a little caregiving in return.

We all have limits, and it's important to recognize them. Today I knew I was not the best candidate to take my Mom for treatment. It's not easy to let go, but one person cannot carry all the weight. If you are caring for someone who has trigeminal neuralgia or an extended illness, get support for yourself. You will need a respite, a chance to rest or take care of yourself. Emergent situations shouldn't overlap, but sometimes they do.

Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers. A big shout of thanks I give to my friend who put me up for then night preceding my daughter's surgery. As Claire Patterson, the founder of the Trigeminal Neuraglia Association has been known to say: only the nicest people have facial pain. It's not a direct quote, but she's right.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Yogurt: what's the difference?

After sharing with you some recipes that feature Greek yogurt several people have asked me what the difference in the Yogurt is. I learned about Greek yogurt in a nutrition class I took recently. Greek yogurt  is thicker and creamier. I have both types in my refrigerator, so I thought  it might be good to compare them for you. Both have fat free labels and both are plain, no flavoring.

The plain organic yogurt I have  is Stonyfield brand. (pictured above)

The Fage Greek yogurt does not use the word organic.(pictured below)

Stonyfield Organic              Fage Total 0%

Calories 110                      Calories 120

Fat 0                                 Fat 0

Carbohydrate 15g              Carbohydrate 9g

Sodium 160                       Sodium 85

Cholesterol 0                     Cholesterol 0

Potassium 540                   Potassium not listed on label

Thanks for your interest. I'm not a dietician or a nutrition expert, but I like to share things that work for me. You can search my blog for no-chew recipes. Hope this information is helpful.

Have you visited my website? With Great Mercy

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Nutritious no-fat smoothie with fiber

Most of us have tried a smoothie, but they often contain things that aren't too healthy. Here's a simple recipe for a thick "shake."

2/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup frozen or fresh berries
1 teaspoon ground flax seed
2 ounces cold water (if using frozen berries)
  or 1/4 crushed ice if using fresh berries
Sweetener (I use 1/2 teaspoon of Stevia)

If you are looking for another way to get more protein and fiber, summer is a great time to incorporate smoothies into your diet. They can be made in a way that they aren't too high in sugar, and they are simple to make. I put mine in a Shake and Take, but a smoothie can be made with a full-size blender or a hand blender.

The ground flax seed gives a smoothie more body. According to the Mayo clinic, it is also an excellent way to get fiber and mega-3 fatty acids. Flax seed improves digestion. Flax seed is sometimes used to help reduce total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol levels and, as a result, it may help reduce the risk of heart disease.  Click to read more of what Mayo clinic says about flax seed

Flax seed has a 4.5 grams of fat in two tablespoons, but only half a gram of saturated fat. This recipe has less than a gram of fat.

You can find other no-chew or easy-chew recipes if you search my blog. Hope you feel better soon!

If you would like to share a no or easy-chew recipe with us, please let me know. I'd love to feature you and your recipe.

Have you visited my website? Click here

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Americans with Disabilities Act

Thank you for your comments and emails about how fighting the pain caused by wind. Yes, trigeminal neuralgia and other facial pain conditions are disabilities. It's important to know why. I'm going to provide a link where I pulled the information for this entry. Let's take a look at how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines disability:  

"Disability means, with respect to an individual, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment."

Knowing what the ADA means by impairment is essential to understanding what a disability is.

"(1) The phrase physical or mental impairment means --

(i) Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine."

Trigeminal neuralgia is a neurological disorder, mentioned above: "anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following systems: neurological."

If we back up to look at how the ADA defines a disability, we see that the impairment must substantially limit a major life activity. Here is the definition for a "major life activity:"

 "(2) The phrase major life activities means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working."

Do you often have difficulty caring for yourself (cooking, brushing your teeth, entering an environment because of the wind)? Speaking? Working? 

Invisible disabilities, such as trigeminal neuralgia, are valid. Here's the link to the portion of the ADA quoted. Scroll down to Sec.36.104 Definitions Americans with Disabilities Act

Take good care!

Have you visited my website? Click here

Monday, July 12, 2010

A no-chew recipe: shrimp and corn chowder

I made this recipe with things I had on hand. It is an easy one.

15 ounce can of creamed corn
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, diced well
1 1/4 cup chicken stock or broth (may also use fish or vegetable stock)
1 1/3 cup lowfat milk
2 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp, chopped into small pieces
4 whole shrimp (optional) for garnish
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional) to thicken soup
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground rosemary
Makes 4 eight ounce bowls

Heat the butter in a pan and add the onions. Cook until translucent. Add the can of  creamed corn. Squeeze the lemon juice into the mixture.

Measure out the chicken stock. If you like your soups thick, add the xanthan gum before you heat the broth.  Stir it well, until there are no lumps in the mixture. Add it to the other ingredients and stir.

Add the remaining ingredients (except the whole shrimp), stir, and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it, and then bring the heat down to low. Cook another 30 minutes. Keep the lid on the pot, except for stirring occasionally.

Once the soup is ready to serve, garnish with a whole shrimp. I also used a lettuce leaf from a bag of prepared spring mix lettuce. Garnishes are important. Even if we can't chew it, it still gives us the feeling of eating something special.

Even on a hot, humid July Florida day, this chowder was not too heavy. It's not high in fat, but it has protein. It isn't easy to get that in a no-chew diet. I used Lactaid milk in mine, and it tastes fine for those who like to watch their lactose intake. Hope you like it!

Be sure to search my blog for other no-chew recipes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Trigeminal neuralgia, parking lots, and wind

Summer is here, making it a great time to prepare for cold weather that promises to arrive a few months from now.

On "handicapped" or accessible parking permits, we see a wheelchair. Yet most people who have these permits don't use a wheelchair. In fact, they may look perfectly healthy. And that's "permissible." After all, most people who have trigeminal neuralgia have been told that they look just fine. But it's not about how we appear to others.

Taking care of one's self sometimes means overlooking the scrutiny of the neighbor, a family member, and the guy in the parking lot who doesn't know us. It means self-advocating. As a certified rehabilitation counselor, I am here to help you find ways to advocate for yourself.

Every state in the U.S. has a unique form (usually found at the tag office) required for applicants of  "handicapped" or accessible parking permits. Most of the applications have a category for a physician to make a selection, saying that the individual has difficulty walking. Don't exclude yourself from this group. If you have trigeminal neuralgia, you have a neurological disorder that can cause a number of issues, including difficulty walking.

Think about this issue: when the wind hits your face and causes electrocution-type pains to slice through it, do you have difficulty walking? One time I asked a gentleman this, and he explained to me that he walks backward through the wind, allowing the back of his head to shield the wind. As he does this, he places another jacket over his face to protect him from the windy blasts. It's not a story that surprised me, but it saddened me. People who have invisible disabilities have rights, plenty of them. Sometimes we just have to fight a little harder to get the things we need.

Walking through a parking lot backwards is dangerous, and so is walking through one with a jacket over one's face. Cars come through parking lots, sometimes at a fast pace. Drivers are distracted with phone calls, text messages, and many other things. Most parking lots have precast concrete bumpers in some of the parking slots. It's easy, if our vision is obstructed, to stumble over them.

Accessible parking helped me get my master's degree. I had to park far from class. I was young and looked healthy, but I wrapped my face up in big scarves and went to class. I parked right outside the class door, making it possible to traverse the path from my vehicle to the building.

Do you have difficulty walking when the wind blows? If you have trigeminal neuralgia, the answer is probably yes. And the pain may be year round because the wind can howl any season.

You may want to talk to your doctor about accessible parking this summer, before your pain escalates and before flu season begins. A good way to approach this might be to make a few notes about what you do to protect yourself as you disembark from your vehicle and make your way across a parking lot to see a doctor, to buy medicine, or to get groceries. Sometimes a phone call to a doctor you have established good communication with will be sufficient. Other times, you may want to make an appointment. And if your physician says "no," ask another one.

Stay safe.

Have you visited my website? Click here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A no-chew recipe: low fat "mashed" potatoes

A pot full of mashed potatoes?

When I was having pain from trigeminal neuralgia, I ate some really fattening things. One of them was mashed potatoes. I didn't really like them before I got sick, but they quickly became a staple of my diet. Because they were (notice were not are) high in saturated fat, they weren't a good choice. It's easy now to make some great potatoes that aren't low in fat, contain protein, and still taste great.

Sometimes restaurants served "smashed potatoes," meaning the skins are on. In the picture, you can see I left them on after cleaning them well. If you are having difficulty swallowing or in a high degree of pain, you may want to remove the skins. I like to leave mine on because of the vitamins and minerals they contain. Here's the simple recipe.

4 cups sliced raw potatoes (any variety, sliced approximately 1/4 inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (optional)
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (you can use more)
3 tablespoons Smart Balance buttery spread with flax seed oil
1 teaspoon Sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Put potatoes in two quart sauce pain, add water and garlic, bringing the potatoes to a low boil. Cook until they are tender. Drain. While potatoes are still hot, add Greek yogurt and buttery spread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 to six. Hope you find it enjoyable. My husband loves this and he's never had a facial pain or jaw pain issue.

Use the search button right above this entry to search for more recipes on my blog or find a fish recipe here. No chew Fish De Lish

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Surviving the dark places

Pain often brings isolation, and it is no one's fault. The person who has an illness doesn't feel like talking, socializing, or maybe even getting dressed. You have to cope with the stress that wreaks your body. And others don't know what to do.

Even if you, in all your pain, reach out for others, you may still experience social isolation. One reason is that people do not want to get to close to suffering. It's frightening to think about illness and how it could happen to them. Their lives are already stressful, and they withdraw from you.

You feel alone, wondering how God could allow you to suffer. Has he left you?

No, God has not left you in your time of distress. Perhaps the pain seems bigger than God, but it is not. Be assured that He is with you. If you need assurance, take a look at Psalm 138:

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
       if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

    9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
       if I settle on the far side of the sea,

    10 even there your hand will guide me,
       your right hand will hold me fast.

    11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
       and the light become night around me,"

    12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
       the night will shine like the day,
       for darkness is as light to you. 

In your pain and aloneness, cling to things and people important to you. They may feel as though they are part of your past, but consider them part of your future.  Fight the good fight of faith: worship God, talk to Him, and focus on God's ability to bring you through this. Be prepared to be lifted up by the Lord, to rise on the wings of the dawn.